50 Prospects Standing Out To Scouts In 2023 Spring Training
Spring training is over and the entirety of the full-season minor leagues are slated to get underway on Thursday. With that in mind, Baseball America has spent the last week polling more than a dozen scouts about some of the most eye-opening talents they saw on minor league backfields in the lead-up to the year.
The biggest takeaway from the calls is that the Dodgers have a fountain of a farm system that spits out talented prospects with the regularity and ferocity of Old Faithful. Seven of the 50 prospects on this list can be found in their system, and that’s without even mentioning already-famous prospects like Diego Cartaya, Bobby Miller, Dalton Rushing or River Ryan.
Their backfields will provide them with enough prospect power to replenish needs in the big leagues either via internal promotion or trade acquisitions, and they’d still have plenty of interesting players remaining.
The players on this list run the gamut from well-known (the Cubs’ Pete Crow-Armstrong) to younger players just gaining steam (the Padres’ Estuar Suero) to prime rebound candidates (Miami’s Kahlil Watson) to intriguing wild cards who have loud tools with plenty of warts as well.
This list is not exhaustive, but it provides a good starting point for what should be another rip-roaring season in the minor leagues.
Mairoshendrick Martinus, SS, Dodgers
Martinus signed out of Curacao in 2022 and put up solid but not spectacular numbers in the Dominican Summer League, where he posted an .803 OPS with seven home runs and 10 stolen bases in 52 games. Like many prospects on the Dodgers’ backfields, Martinus has opened eyes this spring. He’s got big-time bat speed and athleticism and has a chance to stick at shortstop, though he could move over to third base if he gets much bigger. Even if that happens, he’s got both the arm and the power to profile at the corner infield spot. Although his swing has some moving parts, he didn’t show exorbitant amounts of swing-and-miss and displayed impact power to all sectors.
Samuel Muñoz, OF, Dodgers
Muñoz was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2022 and put up outstanding numbers in the DSL, including 12 doubles, a home run, nearly as many walks (26) as strikeouts (34) and a .920 OPS. He also earned a spot in the DSL all-star game. Though the home run power didn’t show up in his first season, evaluators believe his size, strength and sound swing decisions will eventually lead to more juice. He’s played center field this spring but more likely winds up in a corner outfield spot, where his average arm would fit just fine. If the power comes as expected, he’d have the offensive pedigree to profile there, too.
Josue De Paula, OF, Dodgers
Though he was born in New York, De Paula moved to the Dominican Republic when he was 15 and signed with the Dodgers in 2022. The lefthanded-hitting outfielder crushed the competition in the Dominican Republic in his first pro season, when he posted a .970 OPS and had more walks (32) than strikeouts (31). That performance sparked whispers that the Dodgers might have another stud on their hands. Scouts this spring saw a potential impact player who combines size and strength with a strong knowledge of the strike zone and uses both traits to make hard contact to all fields. De Paula plays center field for now but might eventually move to a corner if he gets bigger. His potentially plus hit and power tools would make that transition seamless.
Chris Campos, RHP, Dodgers
The Dodgers took a flier on Campos in the seventh round of the 2022 draft despite a two-year stretch that had been marred by a broken collarbone (2021) and a broken foot (2022). Campos mostly played shortstop at Saint Mary’s but also pitched 34.2 innings over three seasons. Los Angeles saw something it liked and converted him to the mound full-time. Scouts in spring training saw an athletic righthander with a good delivery and the potential for four fringe-average to average pitches, including a changeup that could get to above-average. The Dodgers’ track record for uncovering gems and polishing them to their full potential might help him reach an even higher ceiling.
Thayron Liranzo, C, Dodgers
Liranzo signed with the Dodgers in 2021 out of the Dominican Republic and posted solid but not spectacular numbers in each of his first two seasons, which were spent in the DSL and ACL. In his first season, he showed on-base skills but little impact. In his second season, that script flipped. This spring, the switch-hitter showed scouts a more polished game on both sides of the ball, leading to projections of above-average power from both sides of the plate. There are still swing-and-miss concerns—especially against premium velocity—meaning he might never be more than a below-average hitter. Evaluators also noted that Liranzo’s defense has taken steps forward in the past two seasons and he’s now a solid receiver and blocker. He has plenty of arm strength, but the accuracy must improve.
Justin Wrobleski, LHP, Dodgers
Despite having Tommy John surgery in his draft year at Oklahoma State, Wrobleski showed the Dodgers enough to earn their 11th-round pick in 2021. He showed flashes of his potential toward the end of last season in the Arizona Complex League, at Low-A Rancho Cucamonga and in instructional league. This spring, he continued to build momentum, showing scouts a solid mix of three above-average pitches. His fastball sat in the mid 90s and played up thanks to the deception created by the angle of his delivery. Most important, his changeup has made enough progress that it now matches the quality of his fastball and slider. There are concerns based on durability and lack of track record, but scouts see the potential for a mid-rotation starter at the high end.
Jordan Leasure, RHP, Dodgers
Leasure was taken by the Dodgers in the 14th round of the 2021 draft out of the University of Tampa, where he pitched mostly as a reliever in four seasons. He missed the 2019 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Leasure showed swing-and-miss stuff in a big way in 2022, racking up 84 strikeouts in 58.2 innings between High-A Great Lakes and Double-A Tulsa. Leasure is a surefire reliever, pairing a 95-98 mph fastball with a solid slider and a control-over-command profile. He’s nearly big league-ready and could contribute in Los Angeles this season.
Jacob Zibin, RHP, Guardians
Zibin was Cleveland’s 11th-round pick in the 2022 draft but was awarded the club’s fourth-highest bonus at $1.2 million. He didn’t pitch in an official game after being drafted and didn’t pitch in many games during minor league spring training. When he did get on the mound, the 18-year-old Canadian who pitched his draft year at Florida’s TNXL Academy showed the makings of three above-average pitches. His mix was led by a low-90s fastball that peaked at 95, a sweepy slider and a changeup with excellent sinking action. Cleveland has done wonders with pitching in recent years, and Zibin could be one of the next arms to come through its pipeline.
Kahlil Watson, SS, Marlins
Watson is by no means low-profile or under the radar, but his future was certainly foggy after his 2022 season was clouded by way too many strikeouts and a suspension for an on-field incident. Watson’s tools, however, were rarely in question. Scouts who saw Miami’s 2021 first-rounder this spring saw a player who looked refreshed and ready for a rebound. The dynamic tools are still there—including electric bat speed and corresponding raw power—but the most interesting development is a much more selective approach. If that trait carries over into the regular season and he starts letting it rip on pitches he can drive, he could vault back up the prospect rankings. The defense at shortstop is still erratic and he might wind up moving to the outfield, but Watson’s overall trendline is up after a strong spring.
Raimon Gomez, RHP, Mets
Gomez signed with New York out of Venezuela in August of 2021, less than a month before his 20th birthday. After debuting in the DSL, he skipped over the FCL and headed straight for Low-A St. Lucie in 2022. In a near-exclusive relief role, he struck out 54 hitters and walked 20 in 47.2 innings. This year, it appears the Mets are attempting to stretch Gomez into a starter’s role. On the backfields, he’s shown a fastball that sat in the upper 90s and paired with a sharp high-80s slider and developing changeup. If the changeup comes along, he might have a chance at a starter’s role. If not, his fastball-slider combo could help him find his way into a big league bullpen.
Luis Perales, RHP, Red Sox
The 19-year-old Perales made his full-season debut toward the end of the 2022 season and ran into issues with control and command, walking 11 in 10.2 innings over four starts. Nonetheless, he’s wowed evaluators on the backfields with his outstanding pure stuff. From an overhand delivery, Perales fires a fastball that parks in the mid 90s and peaks at 98. He complements the fastball with a curveball in the low-to-mid 80s and a changeup in the high 80s. He has a better feel for the curveball now, but scouts believe the changeup could be a better pitch with increased use and further development. Perales learned a hard lesson in 2022 about the dangers of nibbling on the corners of the strike zone rather than just letting his pure stuff work its magic. He’s one of the biggest up-arrow candidates in Boston’s system entering 2023.
Eddinson Paulino, SS, Red Sox
In 2022, there were just three teenagers who hit 30 or more doubles and 10 or more homers and also stole 15 or more bases: The Mets’ Alex Ramirez, the Red Sox’s Marcelo Mayer and Paulino, Mayer’s teammate in Boston’s system who has remained relatively anonymous when compared to his peers in the 30-10-15 club. Paulino isn’t the biggest guy in the world, but he makes plenty of contact and impact. He continued to show elements of both on the backfields this spring. Paulino has bounced around the infield in his career but fits best at second base based on only average range that will become more scrutinized with the new limits on defensive positioning in the game. Paulino also has standout makeup and is a favorite of his teammates.
Keyshawn Askew, LHP, Rays
Askew was drafted out of Clemson in the 10th round in 2021. He was then dealt to the Rays in December of 2022 in return for reliever Brooks Raley. This spring he’s shown a mix of funk, athleticism and stuff that could spell trouble for hitters as he moves through the minor leagues. Askew’s bread and butter is a low-90s two-seam fastball with outstanding movement characteristics. He pairs it with a sweepy slider in the low 80s that helps him establish the zone from east to west. Askew also throws a fringy, high-80s changeup that is a clear third pitch. If it comes along, he might have a chance to start. If not, he could be a classically funky Rays weapon out of the pen.
Omari Daniel, SS, Twins
Minnesota selected Daniel in the 14th round of the 2022 draft out of high school in Georgia and used a $232,800 bonus—the highest it awarded after the sixth round—to sign him away from a commitment to Northwest Florida State JC. This spring, he’s proved to be an intriguing projectability prospect. The righthanded hitter has athleticism, fluid actions and strong hands and footwork at shortstop. He also has an above-average arm with a chance for more as he grows into his body. Daniel’s swing is inconsistent currently but scouts see that aspect of his game improving with added strength. In turn, his bat-to-ball and power could improve.
David Festa, RHP, Twins
Festa already places in the Twins’ Top 10 but could improve his profile even further if what scouts saw this spring carries over into the regular season. The Seton Hall alum and 2021 13th-round selection complements a fastball that touches 97 mph with a pair of powerful offspeed pitches in a slider and changeup that each sit in the mid 80s. The changeup used to be a touch behind the slider, but they’ve reached nearly equal cachet. Festa attacks the zone from top to bottom and can command his fastball to all quadrants of the strike zone.
Alex McFarlane, RHP, Phillies
The Phillies chose McFarlane out of Miami in the fourth round of the 2022 draft and signed him to a bonus of more than $500,000. The pick was somewhat of a gamble considering McFarlane had fallen from the rotation to the bullpen in his draft year and sported a 4.00 ERA with 20 walks in 45 innings. This spring, he’s looked rejuvenated. He’s pairing high-90s sinkers with a solid-average slider and a changeup that’s flashed plus. Combine the stuff with his athleticism and enviable frame, and the Phillies might have found themselves a steal.
Petey Halpin, OF, Guardians
Cleveland’s third-rounder from the 2020 draft put together a solid season at High-A Lake County in 2022 but might tap into more in 2023 thanks to an adjustment in his setup. Scouts this spring saw a player who closed his stance more to the point that it’s now only slightly open. The move has put him in a better position to hit and accentuated his already solid bat-to-ball skills. Halpin is not likely to be much of a power threat, but he’s an above-average runner and an excellent defender in center field. That combined skill set could help him fit at the top of an order at the highest level.
Cristian Mena, RHP, White Sox
Mena has been outstanding in his young pro career but still retains a relatively low profile considering his age and performance relative to his level. The righthander, who will pitch all season at 20 years old, boasts a three-pitch mix and a level of poise befitting a much more veteran player. He starts his mix with a low-90s fastball that peaks around 95 and complements it with a top-down curveball in the low 80s and a changeup in the high 80s that projects to be above-average. Mena finished the 2022 season in Double-A as part of Chicago’s “Project Birmingham” and should return to the level in 2023, when he’ll likely be one of the youngest pitchers in the classification.
Austin Hendrick, OF, Reds
It’s no secret that Hendrick, whom the Reds chose with their first-round selection in the 2020 draft, has not had a rip-roaring start to his pro career. He’s missed significant time due to injuries and has produced an OPS of just .751 when he’s been on the field. Scouts this spring saw a mechanical change that led to a player who carried himself with more confidence and could be on the verge of a rebound. Specifically, he’s simplified his operation, become more selective at the plate and has been on time more often against premium velocity. Hendrick has fallen from first-rounder to unranked among the team’s Top 30 prospects after just two seasons, but a new, simpler approach at the plate could fuel a rebound.
Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Cubs
Crow-Armstrong is the highest-profile prospect on this list, but scouts this spring have been effusive enough in their praise that he could jump even further into the ranks of the game’s elite prospects. Crow-Armstrong’s reputation as a true 80-grade center fielder remains intact, but his offensive prowess has jumped up a notch. Evaluators noted a player with a polished work ethic and enough ability to manipulate the barrel to perhaps hit for both average and sneaky power at the top of an order. He will need to improve his approach against lefthanders—against whom he has a tendency to spin out early—to reach that status, but if he can stay focused up the middle and let his natural strength take its course, he could provide plenty of impact on both sides of the ball.
Will Warren, RHP, Yankees
Warren had already ascended to the top spot among Yankees’ pitching prospects, but his stock jumped higher this spring with improved stuff across the board. The 2021 eighth-rounder out of Southeastern Louisiana was sitting between 94-97 with his fastball and has a pair of solid-average offerings in his slider and cutter, with a changeup a tick behind those two pitches. Warren also showed excellent command of his mix and looked stronger and more physical than in 2022.
Bubba Chandler, RHP, Pirates
The Pirates drafted Chandler in the third round of the 2021 draft on the strength of his immense upside and athleticism, and both of those traits have begun to bear fruit. This spring, the righthander showed a 93-96 mph fastball with excellent life and a low-80s curveball that projects as a plus pitch. He also mixed in a changeup with fade and depth. The present stuff, combined with the athleticism and remaining projection, makes it easy to see a pitcher with tremendous upside.
Anthony Solometo, LHP, Pirates
Solometo sits in a similar boat as Chandler in that he’s a long-term projection and upside play. He’s a long, lean lefty with a heavy fastball that sits around 93 mph and has touched up to 95. Solometo primarily pairs his fastball with a shorter cutter-slider hybrid breaking ball in the mid 80s. He has a changeup as well, though it is not used often. He also gets deception from an arm action that is reminiscent of D-backs lefty Madison Bumgarner.
Tsung-Che Cheng, SS, Pirates
The Taiwanese-born Cheng signed with the Pirates in 2019 as a 17-year-old and enjoyed a standout year at Low-A Bradenton in 2022. The lefthanded hitter is athletic and has the instincts and body control to stick up the middle, as well as plenty of bat-to-ball skills. He showed off the latter trait in spring training by notching multiple hits against Braves righthander Charlie Morton in a backfield tuneup for the big league veteran.
Wen Hui Pan, RHP, Phillies
Pan signed with Philadelphia on Jan. 15, 2023 and has made a quick impression in minor league camp. The physical righthander attacks hitters with 96-98 mph four- and two-seam fastballs that are delivered with excellent angle to the plate. Pan mostly pairs his heat with a hard-diving splitter with late tumbling action. He has a traditional changeup and a nascent breaking ball as well, but in the early stages of his career the 20-year-old has the look of a late-game reliever who bullies hitters with nasty stuff. If a third pitch develops further, his ceiling could rise.
Will Brian, LHP, Yankees
The Yankees took Brian in the 10th round in 2022 out of Eastern Kentucky and let him get his feet wet at Low-A Tampa. He’s impressed scouts this spring with average command of a 92-95 mph fastball with plus riding life through the zone. He complements the fastball with a potentially above-average curveball in the 74-78 mph range and a mid-80s changeup upon which his future role will hinge. Brian has an 84-86 mph slider as well but it is not on the same level as his curveball.
Josh Wolf, LHP, Guardians
Wolf, who came over from the Mets in the deal that sent Francisco Lindor to Queens, has been at times injured and ineffective since joining the Cleveland organization. Wolf, still just 22, pitched for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic and looked much better in his backfields outings. Scouts who saw Wolf reported a pitcher who sat between 93-96 mph with his fastball, which was complemented by a powerful, potentially plus slider and an overall crispness to his arsenal that he’d lacked in previous years. Part of that improvement, the scouts believed, could be attributed to a more fluid delivery and a strengthened lower half.
Drew Gilbert, OF, Astros
Houston’s first-rounder from the 2022 draft had his pro debut cut short after a scary collision with an outfield wall while playing for Low-A Fayetteville. He returned this spring and looked as advertised from his days playing for Tennessee. Gilbert has a small, compact frame but showed both contact and power skills on the backfields as well as the ability to get the ball in the air. He’s a solid-average runner with good instincts that play both in the outfield and on the basepaths. Defensively, he plays with high energy and showed plenty of range in all directions to stick in center field.
Nathan Hickey, C, Red Sox
The Florida alum came to Boston in the fifth round of the 2021 draft with a reputation for being a polished offensive catcher. That description still holds true. The 23-year-old has shown a strong, powerful swing that helped him club 16 home runs in just 75 games between the Class A levels. The question now is whether he can stick behind the plate. Scouts who saw Hickey this spring still believe he has a long way to go defensively, but saw a quicker release that bumped his throwing arm from fringe-average to average. That’s a sizable development considering Hickey’s deficiencies in that department in 2022, when runners were successful on 87% of their stolen base attempts.
Francis Peguero, RHP, Twins
Peguero came to Minnesota as a throw-in as part of the deal that sent Sonny Gray to the Twins and Chase Petty to Cincinnati. As part of the Dominican Republic’s World Baseball Classic team, Peguero found himself in the interesting position of pitching against his Twins teammates during spring training. He faced three hitters and struck them all out. Peguero is a relief-only prospect who relentlessly pounds the strike zone with a 94-97 mph fastball, a hard-biting slider and a changeup that is usable but ranks as a distant third pitch when compared to his other weapons. He already has shown exceptional command (his career strikeout-to-walk ratio is better than 5.5), but will need to command the ball better to make himself into a big league relief option.
Colin Barber, OF, Astros
Barber was the Astros’ fourth-rounder from the 2019 draft, selected out of high school in Chico, Calif. On the surface, Barber’s 2022 season—despite being shortened by a shoulder strain—was successful. However, his numbers were largely boosted by the extremely hitter-friendly confines at High-A Asheville, where his OPS was more than 500 points greater than the mark he posted on the road. Barber has always had excellent bat-to-ball skills, but scouts this spring have seen more power, including long home runs to both the pull side and dead center field. If Barber, who has just 12 career minor league long balls, can sustain that output, his prospect stock should greatly increase.
Jorge Bautista, RHP, Braves
Bautista signed with the Braves out of the Dominican Republic in 2018 and has slowly wound his way through the minors. He posted a solid 75 strikeouts against 19 walks in 77.1 innings in 2022, though most of his success came in the Rookie-level Florida Complex League before getting hit hard at Low-A Augusta. Nevertheless, in a thinned-out Braves system he’s an arm worth monitoring. The righthanded Bautista has a loose arm that pumps lively 92-95 mph fastballs that power through the zone and complements them with 78-81 mph curveballs with high spin and tight, late break. Bautista has a changeup as well but his attack plan is mostly based around his fastball-curveball combination at this point.
Edgar Quero: Angels 2022 Minor League Player Of The Year
The Angels hope Edgar Quero can build off his breakout season at Low-A to one day give the organization its first homegrown catcher since the days of Mike Napoli and Jeff Mathis.
Chayce McDermott, RHP, Orioles
McDermott was Houston’s fourth-rounder in 2019 out of Ball State who was subsequently dealt to the Orioles as part of the three-team swap that helped Trey Mancini land with the Astros. The righthander struggled a bit last year upon reaching Double-A, where he allowed too much contact and too many walks. On the backfields this spring, he’s shown a promising mix of a mid-90s fastball that has peaked at 98 mph as well as a slider and a curveball that each flashed average potential. There’s a changeup in the mix as well, but it is a distinct fourth pitch. McDermott’s longer arm stroke may hinder his command, but his raw stuff is enough for him to remain intriguing.
Parker Messick, LHP, Guardians
Messick was Cleveland’s second-rounder from the 2022 draft out of Florida State. He did not pitch after signing but fits the Guardians’ pitching mold of college-bred strike-throwers to perfection. He won’t wow anybody with velocity—scouts reported two- and four-seamers in the 89-91 mph range—but he will command the ball and pitch his tail off. Messick complemented his fastballs with a breaking ball and a changeup that each flashed above-average quality. He mixed and matched his offerings well and showed an advanced understanding of how to tunnel them off of one another and amplify their effectiveness.
Wuilfredo Antuñez, OF, Guardians
In 2022, Antuñez popped onto the radar after losing 2020 to the pandemic and spending 2021 dealing with leg injuries and seeing game action only in backfield intrasquad action. He raked in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League, where he put up a .982 OPS, and earned a brief promotion to Low-A Lynchburg for the stretch run and playoffs. Antuñez might not top Cleveland’s system, but there are ingredients to make him interesting. He’s got bat-to-ball skills and enough sneaky pull-side power to make him a player who could fit at the top or bottom of a lineup. He’s at least an above-average runner and has the range to play center field, though his arm might fit better in left field. He’ll need to improve his swing decisions to continue producing as he advances through the system, but he flashes enough on both sides of the ball to keep himself on the radar.
Eric Silva, RHP, Giants
Silva has long had an enviable combination of pure stuff and athleticism. The results, however, haven’t always matched up. If what he showed on the backfields this spring carries into the regular season, he might be poised for a breakout. In minor league games, Silva, whom the Giants took in the fourth round of the 2021 draft out of high school in California, showed a powerful mix of five pitches, all of which looked like potential weapons. Moreover, he showed a better understanding of how to use them to attack hitters. He threw the right pitches to the right spots in the zone at the right times and got the corresponding results. Silva has stuff, athleticism and twitch. If he’s learned the finer points of pitching, look out.
Edgar Quero, C, Angels
In 2022, Quero was the only player in the minor leagues with a slash line of .300/.400/.500 and 35 or more doubles, 15 or more home runs and 10 or more stolen bases. This year, the Angels are showing their faith in the Cuban-born catcher by jumping him over High-A and instead letting him make his Double-A debut on the day he turns 20 years old. The offensive part of Quero’s game remains the same: He’s an advanced hitter who can produce both average and power. There’s still development to come on the defensive side of the ball, though he looked more confident behind the plate this spring and did a good job commanding his pitching staff. His receiving skills will be tested in Double-A by a pitching staff that includes plenty of high-octane arms, including righthander Ben Joyce, the minor leagues’ premier flamethrower.
Carson Whisenhunt, LHP, Giants
In the early rounds of the 2022 draft the Giants bet big on upside, taking Whisenhunt and lefthander Reggie Crawford. The latter was recovering from Tommy John surgery and the former missed his entire season at East Carolina because of a suspension for performance-enhancing substances. Whisenhunt got a chance to prove himself pre-draft with a few starts in the Cape Cod League. After a little time in the minors and some work in the second half of the Arizona Fall League, Whisenhunt has looked excellent this spring. He looks stronger on the mound, has brought his fastball up to 94 mph and has shown a revamped curveball with a more sweepy, 1-to-7 shape instead of the true top-to-bottom iteration he’d previously shown. The signature of Whisenhunt’s repertoire, however, remains his supremely wicked changeup. The pitch is a true soul-taker that uses big-time velocity separation and lateral movement to induce futile swings. It is a future 70-grade weapon.
Bryce Osmond, RHP, Angels
The Angels popped Osmond in the 15th round of the 2022 draft out of Oklahoma State, where late arm soreness clouded his draft stock. He did not pitch after signing but showed well on the backfields this spring. Osmond has two potentially plus weapons in his 93-96 mph fastball and an 82-85 mph slider, and also mixes in an improved changeup and a two-seamer as well. He has an easy, repeatable delivery which helps him throw everything out of the same slot. Those traits, plus his pitch mix and athleticism give him the look of a rotation piece.
Adrian Rodriguez, RHP, Rangers
Rodriguez is a late-bloomer who came to the Rangers organization as a 39th-round pick in 2019 from Florida Virtual School in Orlando. He reached Low-A for the first time in 2022 (and will return there to begin 2023) and fared just OK. In a late-spring outing on the backfields, Rodriguez was dynamic. He used a projectable body and a clean arm stroke to produce a lively fastball in the 95-99 mph range and a high-spin breaking ball in the 81-86 mph range. The delivery traits and pure stuff give Rodriguez a chance to be an intriguing wild card candidate in Texas’ system.
Chandler Champlain, RHP, Royals
Champlain was the Yankees’ ninth-round pick in 2021 out of Southern California and was flipped to the Royals last summer in the deal that brought Andrew Benintendi to New York. On the backfields this spring, Champlain showed a physical presence and a full four-pitch arsenal that could lead him to a back-end starter’s role if he can find more consistency when pitching out of the stretch. His two biggest weapons are a fastball that sits in the low-to-mid 90s and peaks around 97 as well as a powerful downer curveball in the 77-81 mph range that evaluators think could get to double-plus. He rounds out his mix with a potentially above-average slider in the 83-86 mph range and a changeup that needs more development.
Austin Charles, SS, Royals
Charles is the brother of Art Charles, a former Phillies farmhand and BA’s 2016 Independent League Player of the Year. The younger Charles was taken by Kansas City in the 20th round of the 2022 draft out of high school in California and made his pro debut with a trio of games in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League. On the backfields this spring he showed an intriguing set of tools, including skills that might allow him to stick at shortstop despite his listed 6-foot-4 frame. Specifically, he showed soft hands, quickness, agility and a plus arm. At the plate, Charles impressed scouts with a mature approach that stayed intact against pitchers with much more experience and the ability to make loud contact against premium velocity.
Colt Keith, 3B, Tigers
Keith was taken by the Tigers in the fifth and final round of the 2020 draft out of high school in Mississippi. Since then, all he’s done is hit. The 21-year-old sports a career .848 OPS across two minor league seasons, and added a stellar turn in the Arizona Fall League in 2022, when he posted a 1.004 OPS. Scouts this spring reported seeing a player who controls his at-bats, takes pitches with confidence and shows plus bat speed that will help him produce 20 or more home runs per season. He’s not a particularly good defender and shows shaky footwork and a fringy arm at third base, meaning a move to first base or left field—where his bat would still profile—could be in the offing.
Angel Chivilli, RHP, Rockies
Chivilli began to make noise last season and reinforced that hype this spring. Scouts saw a confident pitcher with athleticism, a lightning-quick arm and an electric fastball in the 93-97 mph range that showed excellent life at the top and the bottom of the zone. Chivilli’s breaking ball isn’t consistent but when he snaps off a good one it’s a swing-and-miss offering with tight, deep break. The gem of Chivilli’s arsenal, however, is a true weapon of a changeup that scouts believe could be a potential double-plus pitch. Chivilli already comes with a swagger on the mound, but he backed up that confidence by throwing the changeup to righties and lefties and got whiffs in both cases.
Lazaro Montes, OF, Mariners
Montes, a Cuban prospect who signed with Seattle in 2022, is a big man with corresponding power. Like most younger players, he needs to improve his pitch recognition, but when he squares a ball he produces impact like few other players with his age and experience. A big key to Montes’ development will involve getting him to realize that his massive power comes naturally and that he doesn’t need to overswing to force any more. Defensively, his glove is fine but he’ll need to clean up his routes and jumps to help him play an average right field. His arm isn’t the kind of weapon that you’d typically see from a right fielder, but it should settle in as an average tool.
Estuar Suero, OF, Padres
Suero was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2022, then spent his first pro season in the Dominican Summer League. This spring, the switch-hitter has opened the eyes of scouts inside and outside the organization. Immediately, Suero’s projectable, lanky body stands out. Despite his age, Suero already shows excellent coordination and fluidity in his movements, gets good jumps in center field and is roughly an above-average runner and maybe a tick better underway. There’s an understandable amount of swing-and-miss in his game (he struck out at a nearly 30% clip in the DSL) but scouts believe he’ll improve his contact skills as he gets stronger. Suero has enviable raw juice already and could reach double-plus power as he fills into his body.
Cristofer Torin, SS, D-backs
Torin signed with Arizona in 2022 out of the Dominican Republic and then torched the DSL with a stat line that featured nearly double the amount of walks (37) as strikeouts (20). This spring, scouts saw a player who looked like he had the potential for gifts on both sides of the ball. Torin’s bat-to-ball skills stood out the most. He used a short, compact swing that produced plenty of contact and a smattering of power. He’s a smaller player at a listed 5-foot-10 but scouts who saw him last year noticed a player who’d spent considerable time in the weight room and was stronger than his listed 155 pounds. It’s not clear whether he’ll stick at shortstop but he looked good at both middle-infield positions and has speed in the 50-55 range.
Yanquiel Fernandez, OF, Rockies
The High-A Spokane roster is going to be littered with talent to start the season, and Fernandez might just fly a bit under the radar as a result. There’s undoubtedly some aggression and swing-and-miss to his game, but Fernandez has the juice to sock 30 home runs this year. If he can become more selective—which will become especially important once he reaches the upper levels—that power might carry to the big leagues. If everything clicks, he could be an above-average hitter with plus power once he reaches Colorado.
Max Muncy, SS, Athletics
Muncy, whom the A’s popped in the first round of the 2021 draft, has always been a powerful player who can crush a fastball—one evaluator this spring saw him hit a tracer of a home run with 110-plus mph exit velocity—with ease and authority. Now, he’s starting to fare better against breaking balls and has shown the ability to do damage against mistake offspeed pitches. Muncy has quick actions laterally and solid body control, but his arm might be a little less than what is required to play shortstop. If that’s the case, his bat would easily profile at second base.
Nelson Rada, OF, Angels
The Angels are showing their faith in Rada with an Opening Day assignment to Low-A Inland Empire, thus skipping him entirely over the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League. Scouts this spring who saw the 17-year-old—who drew 26 walks and strikeouts apiece in the DSL—reported a player with bountiful natural strength, a buggy-whip swing and the innate bat-to-ball skills to project as a potentially plus hitter with plenty of impact as well. He’s a solid defender in center field as well, despite a body type that isn’t normally associated with the position. The reviews from scouts plus the aggressive actions by the Angels are both strong hints that Rada could see a quick and stark rise in his prospect stock in the first half of the season.
— Additional reporting by Geoff Pontes and Bill Mitchell